The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth -352 pages
The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street. Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers. But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park – and returned home without her. As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.
My Review: 3.5 stars
Once again, Sally Hepworth has brought the secrets of families, neighbors and friends under her realistic lens in The Family Next Door. This is the third book I’ve read of Hepworth’s and I still would rate The Things We Keep as my favorite of hers. I enjoyed understanding the puzzling behaviors of these characters that were slowly unraveled to the reader.
It’s quite true that no one’s life is what it seems, especially if it looks absolutely perfect. This book unleashes the stereotypical, as well as some off the chart secrets that people keep. I had never heard of GSA (not going to disclose the meaning of this acronym to avoid spoilers) and it was very interesting. There was an unknown narrator, which reminded me of the omniscient voice on Desperate Housewives. Of course that led me to the similarities of their one word street names: Wysteria and Pleasant.
All of the women on the Pleasant Circle had to deal with their own demons, but I would’ve liked some of the subplots mentioned earlier to have finished what was started. For example, the one that most stood out was the start of a Neighborhood Watch group. I definitely thought that would lead to some kind of “wow” or “ah hah” moment, yet it read as a dead end.
Nonetheless, even with my few issues, I still gobbled this book up as I sat at by the pool while on vacation. Reminded me of a B version of Little Big Lies.
Quotes I liked:
Dinners out with friends should be mandatory for mothers of small children, she decided. They should be the law.”
-“Or maybe you end up living a perfect lie.”
-“It was the loveliest knife she’d ever been stabbed with.”